US soldiers are heroes, not terrorists
Homeland Security's warning is unjustified.
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We know of no incident where an Iraq or Afghanistan war veteran has become a domestic terrorist. In fact, the only terrorist incident involving an American soldier occurred in 2003, when Muslim Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar threw a live hand grenade into another tent where his fellow soldiers were sleeping. Two soldiers were killed; 14 others were injured.Skip to next paragraph
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The Homeland Security report failed to mention the incident involving Akbar. But it made much of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. True, McVeigh served one tour in the military. But he was also an agnostic computer techie, an obsessive gambler, and a former security guard. Why did the report single out his military service? In reality, the most meaningful contribution McVeigh ever made was as a soldier. He earned the Bronze Star during Operation Desert Storm and saved another soldier's life. We don't know why McVeigh became a terrorist, or whether his military service was even a contributing factor. In any event, using an isolated incident of one veteran's act from nearly two decades ago to attack and label today's war veterans is disingenuous and downright wrong.
Truth be told, veterans are more likely to become members of Congress than they are to become terrorists. In recent years, dozens of them hit the campaign trail and ran for Congress. Many were successful.
It is true that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan face an uphill battle in civilian life. Many of them have served multiple tours in Iraq or Afghanistan fighting terrorists who refuse to follow the laws of war. Some soldiers have watched their friends die. Others come home with permanent disabilities, including post- traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Despite all this, they love their country.
So instead of flagging veterans as potential terrorists, the government should treat them as the heroes they are by ensuring that those wounded in combat or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder receive the disability benefits they've earned.
Kyndra Rotunda is a professor of law at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and director of the AMVETs clinic. She is also a former Army JAG Officer (Major) and author of "Honor Bound: Inside the Guantanamo Trials."